Why do I donate? Several reasons. Probably the first is utlimately selfish. I like the way I feel. I like knowing that I've done something to help someone I'm connected with by blood type. B Negative is the second rarest type of blood. Only one in every 112 people is B NEG. Of course I had no more choice in the matter than my eye color or shoe size, but I do have the choice of what I do with it.
There's also the sensual part of the process. When I started, I distracted myself from the details, but now I'm an interested overserver of the the soft recliners and great view of the mountains at ARUP. The cold metal arm trays on the folding chairs when the Red Cross sets up at my neigborhood church. The foamy betadine scrub. The way my left arm accepts the needle much less painfully than my right. The burgundy color of venus blood in the plastic tubing.
I also like the idea that of all the ways to bleed throughout the ages--on the battle field, as a part of an initiation or sacrifice or torture, internally as a result of injury or disease, externally from a knife wound or surgical wound or self-inflicted wound, or medicinal bloodletting with lancets or leeches--this type of bleeding if preferable. True, giving your blood in battle (whether in war or sports or some other noble cause) has a certain appeal, but I'm glad a I live in an age where there's also this less violent way to give.
And then there's always that lingering question, do I prefer to drink cranberry juice after a donation because I'm replacing one red fluid with another?